Standing (L) Ronnie Ritchie & Jamie Cameron, Front (L) Gregg Ritchie
& Joey Jacob
Once again, it's the youth who suffer for the
interactions of adults. The Aaron Roote Memorial Youth Centre at
Saugeen First Nations has been closed.
The centre was opened in 2004 to provide a place where the teens of
Saugeen First Nations could meet and socialize. Named after Aaron Roote,
who was killed in a car accident in 2003, the facility was a centre
where the youth of Saugeen First Nation could meet, talk and engage in
activities such as pool.
Apparently, although a long-term lease was in place, the building and
property have subsequently been returned through a court order, to the
original owner, Fred Shannon, who presently resides in Port Elgin.
"We came here whenever it was open," says Gregg Ritchie. "It was a place
where we knew we could come, where we could play pool or just sit and
Aaron Roote's father, Kelly Roote, a renowned international artist, said
that he had received feedback from many members of the community who
have donated both time and materials to the centre. "We have put in
more than $40,000 in private spending for materials to upgrade the
building," says Roote. "The most important thing though is that our
young people no longer have a place they can call their own."
According to one teenager, who frequented the centre often, "It's not
fair. It was an old building that the owner gave to us. Now that we
fixed it up, he wants it back."
Unfortunately, this is about more than a building. It is about land,
leasing, the Indian Act and the court system.
It's far more complicated than simply closing a youth centre ...
unfortunately, however, it's the youth who, once again, will lose.
They will have no place to go, no activities to keep them occupied, no
place to meet and socialize. Hopefully, they will rise above the
pettiness of their adult counterparts and will continue on the road to
discussion and communication.